Entrepreneur Branson to Rise from the Ashes: Rebuilding After Destruction

Richard Branson [Photo by Nick J Webb] (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Branson’s Island Goes Down in Flames, Kate Winslet Escapes Uninjured

Recently, the entrepreneur Richard Branson took an unexpected hit when his Necker island went up in flames.

Celebrity Kate Winslet and her children were there on Richard Branson’s Caribbean estate at the time, but escaped uninjured from the fire that destroyed the home of the business tycoon. The actress had been staying at Branson’s home on a private island in the British Virgin Islands with her two children and her boyfriend. The fire broke out around 4am in the 8 bedroom Great House on Necker island in the midst of Tropical Storm Irene.

Branson was staying at a neighboring property at the time with his wife and son, who helped to evacuate Winslet and about 20 other guests. Branson’s 90 year old mother was also staying in the house at the time, and she got out safely as well. The property was first developed by Branson in the early 1980′s and has been a popular retreat for the elite since that time.

Richard Branson’s Island Home Destroyed, but will Rebuild Immediately

Phoenix [Photo by jurvetson] (CC BY-SA 3.0)

The fire that destroyed the main house on Richard Branson’s island began when lightning struck the house during a fierce tropical storm which had winds topping 90 miles per hour. The house was completely gutted by the fire, but Branson said that he plans to rebuild as soon as possible and replace it with something that will be even more luxurious and special.

3 of Branson’s Social Initiatives That are Rebuilding the World

In the spirit of turning things around, making things happen, and creating something out of nothing, I also want to highlight some of Branson’s major initiatives for social good. This demonstrates to you just how driven this guy is, not only in terms of for profit business but also for social entrepreneurship as well.

1. Richard Branson Fights Global Warming

Gathering [Photo by eisenbahner] (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Media, pledged to use his personal profits from his rail company and airlines to fight global warming. Over the next ten years, these profits are estimated to be over $3 billion. Branson plans to invest this money into the development of clean energy sources.

The plan is to invest in a host of alternative energy enterprises, including some which are within the Virgin Group. There are currently about 200 different companies that are connected to Branson’s corporate empire. He says he feels personally responsible for leaving a clean world to the next generation, and that he doesn’t want his generation to go down in history as the one responsible for causing irreversible environmental damage. It is estimated that the pledge is the largest individual contribution to the fight against global warming.

2. Virgin Unite Nonprofit Foundation

London Marathon 25.04.2010 (160) [Photo by Julian Mason] (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Virgin Unite is the nonprofit foundation founded by Richard Branson of the Virgin Group. The goal of Virgin Unite is to unite people around the world to take on the most difficult social and environmental problems using an entrepreneurial approach. The idea of using business as a force for social good is based on a belief that this is the only way to meet the scale and urgency of the many challenges facing the world today.

Young people’s charities world wide are a major focus on Virgin Unite. Because Richard Branson and Virgin Group cover all of the overhead for Virgin Unite, all donations received go directly to frontline operations. Virgin Unite focuses on incubating new international leadership models to creatively address issues like climate change, conflict and disease. They also offer consulting and support to businesses who want to get involved in CSR initiatives.

3. Branson School of Entrepreneurship in Johannesburg for Small Business

Almost there [Photo by Michiel Van Balen] (CC BY-SA 3.0)

The Branson School of Entrepreneurship in Johannesburg, South Africa is the first educational institution in the world to be sponsored by business tycoon Richard Branson. The Cida City campus is located in the heart of Johannesburg, and it is the first free tertiary educational institution in the country as well. It provides a specialized curriculum leading to accredited business degrees, and it caters to disadvantaged students.

Entrepreneurship is one of the 11 courses that students at Cida study during their first year at this foundation college. Under the umbrella of entrepreneurship, students learn a variety of skills including computing, English and math. The foundation year students in this program also have the unique opportunity to develop and present business ideas for which they may receive seed grants. The school has also been backed by donations from British entrepreneurs Leo Caplan and Tom Bloxam.